Business News of Friday, 26 October 2018
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has warned of serious sanctions to companies who do not comply with its directives to vet and approve advertising contents, prior to broadcast on airwaves and has singled out the media as the major culprit for the non-compliance. According to the Authority, most media houses continue to flout FDA’s rules and still transact business with companies who do not submit` approved advertorial contents by the FDA thus, disregarding the health and safety of the general public.
The FDA and its stakeholders have warned offenders who flout the law on alcoholic beverages, orthodox medicine, food supplements, cosmetics, medical device, and household chemicals among others that they will be punished if found guilty.
Speaking exclusively to Goldstreet Business, Head of communications at the FDA, Mr. James Lartey explained that: “the blame should at the doorsteps of the media because the FDA has sent letters to all media houses that if any person should come to them to advertise a product, they will need to confirm approval of the product by the FDA and approval for advertising from the FDA. Once the person is advertising a disease in the ‘Schedule 5’ that alone should tell the media house that they can never be given approval.”
He also noted that most advertisements done on radio, television, print, bill board and social media did not conform to provisions of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851).
Mr. Lartey added that, per the Act, products that claim to be panacea for diseases such as hypertension, fibroid, AIDS, cancer, reproductive and heart related diseases, blindness and diabetes, among others, are all not to be advertised as clearly stated under Schedule 5 of the law
The Authority stated that it has written letters regarding the order to all media stations across the country, copied the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) National Media Commission, GIBA and the Advertisers Association of Ghana
According to him they have issued statements and directives in the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times and has had engagements with the media in Accra and all the regions.
Product approval does not mean automatic advertising
Mr. Lartey said, “the law ensures you need an approval of advert from the FDA before you can go ahead and advertise. For instance, you might have done your registration with the FDA and gotten your product approved and it’s on the market but that does not give you the right to advertise it until FDA has looked at the advert and approved it before you advertise”.
According to him the law states very clear that in such an offence, “you can be fined an amount not less than 7,500 penalty units that’s when you are taken to court and found guilty and not more than 15,000 penalty units. One unit is GHC12 so you are looking at a minimum fine of GHC90,000 and maximum fine of GHC180,000”.
“Again, the court may decide if you are found guilty `that instead of fining you they might want you to go to jail and the minimum sentence is 15years, with a maximum of 25 years”, he warned.
Stakeholders in this campaign include the Ministry of Health, Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Consumer Protection Agency, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Medical Association and Advertisers Association of Ghana.